Could Kratom Be Made Illegal in 2018?

June 28, 2018 Articles, Kratom Research, News

The SITSA Act—it may sound like a harmless 90’s nunsploitation movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, but it’s actually far worse than that and may prove to be more damaging than a hip-hop sequel.

In early June, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2851, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act (SITSA Act) which is meant to curb the scourge of the opioid epidemic in America.

You might be thinking, “Okay, well, that’s all well and good. Maybe my neighbor Ronnie will stop having the cops called on him when he passes out on his front porch naked with a bottle of Oxy on his chest.”

But the problem with such legislation is the vague and potentially far-reaching power it provides the Department of Justice. Whenever such bills are passed, it is usually after politicians from both sides of the aisle have come to an agreement to roll their individual agendas into one massive hunk of legislation.

This appears to be the case with the SITSA Act as no fewer than 58 different bills were combined to form it. Such bills are invariably written in such nebulous jargon as to invite bureaucrats and lawmakers to find a loophole in their language that can be exploited for other purposes.

In this case, we’re talking about the on-going fight against kratom. For a number of years now, the FDA and the DEA have been doing all that they can to try and ban kratom in the U.S. What the SITSA Act may do is give them their big win, a win that will be a huge loss to both the public and the scientific community.

To wit: On June 21st, nine leading scientists delivered a letter to Senate and House leaders denouncing the FDA’s recommendation that kratom be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. In this letter, they beseech the DEA to revoke the the FDA’s recommendation pending additional study and to prevent regulation from blocking consumer access for the 3-5 million kratom users in the United States.

This is but one example of scientists admonishing the government of the blow that a kratom ban would deliver to further scientific assessment of kratom and its potential benefits. And they are not the only ones concerned by things like the SITSA Act.

The American Kratom Association issued a call to action just two days later, writing, “In the rush to show how serious the Congress is in addressing the opioid crisis prior to the mid-term elections, several of these 58 bills contain provisions that will actually deny Americans access to safe natural plants and herbs that help Americans manage their health and well-being.

This is true not only of the individual bills that have slipped into the SITSA Act but the overall bill itself as any analogue (read: drug) that has a similar chemical structure to that of opioids could be placed into the category of controlled substances known as Schedule A. This could include any substance that has “actual or predicted” effects similar in nature to opioids.

Since kratom is an opioid-agonist, it isn’t hard to imagine them using this fact to classify kratom and other natural compounds as illicit drugs, something that many believe would be detrimental to the cause of quashing the kind of research necessary to eliminate the opioid crisis in our country.

The bill makes no attempt to conceal the very obvious agenda. On the contrary, the language is presented right up front. “(I) a chemical structure that is substantially similar to the chemical structure of a controlled substance in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V; and

“(II) an actual or predicted stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system that is substantially similar to or greater than the stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic on the central nervous system of a controlled substance…”

The only bright side to this bad fuckeroo is the addendum that the substance in question is not “with respect to a particular person, subject to an exemption that is in effect for investigational use, for that person, under section 505 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 355)…”

Perhaps cooler heads will prevail and the politicians responsible for this bill will uphold the theory of many scientists and experts in the medical community that Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) is worthy of investigational studies.

Perhaps not.

Or, perhaps, other means will be used to implement a kratom ban. The SCREEN Act (Stop Counterfeit Drugs by Regulating and Enhancing Enforcement Now) is another piece of legislation that endeavors to prevent the shipment of synthetic opioids into the US from foreign countries.

Thus far, it is unclear whether the public’s appeals to their local Senators has yielded any results. If the Senate has convened to discuss the prospect of amending the bill to exclude botanical herbs, it has yet to be announced.

It is not too late for our readers to reach out to their Senators and support kratom advocacy. You can visit the following sites to learn more about how you can help educate, advocate and volunteer:

In a world where FDA-approved medications like Hydrocodone and Fentanyl are killing thousands of American citizens and drug overdoses continue to rise, it hardly seems fair for the powers that be to come after an Ayurvedic herb that has only been linked to a handful of deaths, most of which have been proven to be related to other drug use and preexisting medical conditions.

Regardless of where one lands on the purported benefits of kratom, one thing is obvious: The public wants it to remain legal, so now it’s time to make that desire vocal when it matters most. #SaveKratom #iamkratom #StayCalmAndKratomOn

Bob Freville
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